#Stronger Than the Cookie: The first weeks of maintaining my weight loss

I spent the first months of the COVID lock-down in Pennsylvania, doing what I have done for much of my life, downing my favorite comfort foods of cake (with frosting), cookies and ice-cream, until a fateful day in June 2020 when I had a wake-up call. You can read that story here: https://michelesomerville.blog/2020/07/21/the-cookie-diary

I met my weight loss goal, ten months and fifty-five pounds later, on May 9, 2021. I knew that after all that work, it would take a plan to stay on track. Here is how it is going so far: my goal weight was 145 pounds. Metabolism will always take us up and down by ounces at least, other things being equal. For most of the days since May 9th, I have fluctuated between 143-144. My hope is that the goal weight of 145 will be the top end, rather than the bottom end of that fluctuation. So far, so good and that between the ups and downs of vacations, my husband’s health issues, which often send me to comfort food, and just normal life.

Picture of the author, dressed in blue and white, standing in a restuarant.
At goal weight ~ Photo by Shane Hicks-Lee

Thanks to a lot of learning and practice over the last year, I have been able to develop better habits, and to my surprise a new palette. I continue to weigh in every day, count calories and balance types of food. I have increased my calorie intake gradually, not taking anything for granted. I eat foods that I like and have learned to savor flavors, experiment with foods I had never eaten and enjoy occasional treats, just not daily treats. And although I do not cry very often, I have found that a good cry does me more good than a handful of warm, melty, delicious, chocolate chip cookies.

Vacation ups and downs

Having a plan for vacation food was crucial, especially because while food choices were under my control, food availability, not so much. Part of my plan that went well included bringing along Henrietta (my scale) as a traveling companion; I continue my practice of weighing in most days, and did not want to leave this to chance. Also, we brought a variety of fruit and cheese snacks for the hotels. For this particular vacation, all of our meals were restaurant meals. That proved to be a wild card in this time of gradual opening after COVID.

Fast food is not healthy food, but financially, we generally plan two meals a day to be fast food. But one particular fast food chain is doing drive in only. This practice seems to be consistent across the board for that one chain, but with other chains it varies.

I can do the fast food on vacation thing as long as I can sit down for supper and have vegetables as part of my meal. In saying that, I am not assuming all offerings of vegetables as side dishes are healthy, but part of vacation for me needs to be not having to cook or clean up, so these are the compromises and constraints that were part of staying on plan and maintaining my loss in the face of high-fat, high-salt, fast food, and sit down meals.

Emotion

There is probably a reason that certain foods are called comfort foods, whether the foods are a sentimental dish your mom or grandmother used to make, or traditional dishes like turkey with dressing, or your favorite kind of pie, or food from your family’s culture. For me, my favorite comfort food is ice cream, or cake with frosting, or both together and almost any kind of bread and butter. My list is long; maybe yours is too. My husband had surgery recently, and picking up fast food on the way home from the hospital is tempting, cookies from the hospital snack bar, also tempting. Leaving the hospital tired and stressed was like running a gauntlet made of sugar and spice.

Picture of a teddy bear on a bed, with a bowl of heart shaped cookies.
Photo by Dzenina Lukac from Pexels

Rejecting those things does not mean that I have turned into some paragon of virtue or self-control. It means that I have decided to make different choices. I love bagels, and I have a preferred brand, they are often my “go-to” breakfast four days a week or as an occasional evening snack. I love cheese, and we generally have an ounce of Colby jack cheese as part of an evening snack. Those simple foods are important to me and I continued eating them throughout my weight loss. So I am not suddenly splurging on them, but continuing to enjoy them.

I love rich creamy ice creams with lots of flavors, served in a cereal bowl, but I am willing to give that up in favor of maintaining my current size. Right now, and I hope for always, a chocolate Dixie cup ice cream a few nights a week, or an occasional small soft cone at the ice cream shop every few weeks in the summer is good enough.

And then there is bread. Don’t get me started. Well, I did start making my own bread a few months ago and I am learning as I go. I know from my own experience and from what social media friends have said, warm, freshly made bread can be a slippery slope. But I am pretty determined, so I slice and freeze the bread for my own use and weigh it, so that I am enjoying homemade bread, but limiting the enjoyment. I hope to write soon about my adventures in breadmaking so that is all I will say about that here.

Fear

I admit there have been times in the last few weeks that I have been afraid. I felt as though I were clinging to the wall of a tall building, for fear of going to close to the edge of reason, and falling off into an abyss made of chocolate syrup. So my first few weeks at goal, I only increased my calories to 1300-1350 daily. Now, two months after meeting my goal, I am pretty much holding at 1400-1500 calories a day and it feels like enough.

After all, this is still a work in progress and while I have learned to overcome emotional eating (for the most part) and practice mindfulness in choices and eating, there are some good habits I have yet to achieve. I am still not walking enough, still not drinking enough water and still, despite everything, forgetting to put my fork down between bites. A work in progress.

Determination and grace, lots of grace

Determination, along with a healthy plan and good support systems, have been key in the success that I have experienced. I try to never take it for granted. Some days, and today was one, that I find I am so hungry for something sugar laden, that I wonder if I have learned anything. Today, I succeeded and grabbed some grapes, counted and logged them along with a glass of sugar free ice tea. There is a bag of homemade cranberry scones on the counter, along with the blueberry scones I made for my husband. Planning on a cranberry scone for breakfast tomorrow and the rest will go in the freezer.

I plan to continue writing about this, charting progress and struggles in the hopes that there is something encouraging in my journey for others. And, it is a good way for me to remain accountable to myself at least. Sometimes, when I am hungry, and reach into the frig and pull out fruit, I wonder, “Who are you?”

I still feel the tug of frosting laden treats, but also know they are nothing but unrequited love. I am learning to love myself more than chocolate cake. ,I am still finding my way, and trying to not take anything for granted. I am thankful and still #Stronger than the Cookie.

Not holding back the tide,

Michele

Copyright 2020-2024 Michele Somerville, The Beach Girl Chronicles and https://msomervillesite.WordPress.com

Linking up with Denyse Whelan (#Life This Week) Natalie the Explorer’s #Weekend Coffee Share and Esme’s Senior Salon

Published by msomerville2014

About: Michele Somerville is a wife, mother, stepmother, grandmother, sister, aunt, cousin and friend. She lives with her husband and their dog Sheba. Sheba is their fourth rescue dog in 30 years. She is a retired ordained United Methodist Elder and serves two churches part-time in North Central Pennsylvania. She obtained her Bachelors’ Degree in 1999 from Mansfield University and her Master of Divinity in 2004 and Doctor of Ministry in 2016, both from Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School in Rochester, New York. My Doctor of Ministry Thesis was:” Prophetic Words of Grace: Biblical Storytelling in the Local Church.” Michele began writing and performing character monologues for worship in 2008. She began by asking the question about nameless characters in the Bible, “What would they say if they could speak for themselves?” and then using her theological education and experience of the human condition to attempt an answer that is both academic and creative. Much of what you will read here are memories from growing up in a tourist town, in a bar, in the 1960’s, shaggy dog stories about our rescue dogs, life in a small town, and stories of faith and hope. Throughout her life she has lived in many states, including small towns, large towns and cities. She lived in Rota, Spain, for nine challenging months. Despite all the places she have lived since moving away from home in 1970,Michele is at the heart of all things Jack and Maggie’s daughter, and a beach girl from Onset, Massachusetts.

29 thoughts on “#Stronger Than the Cookie: The first weeks of maintaining my weight loss

  1. Your heading photo makes me drool, Michele. Especially since it is close to our dinner time. Congratulations on reaching your weight loss goal and staying on track. You look beautiful! And this is even before the weight loss. You have also developed a balanced healthy way of eating. You make great points about “comfort food.” I agree how it can differ from family to family and different cultures. I appreciate your candid, comprehensive post. You are inspirational, Michele. “Grace” is a wonderful word on many levels.💕

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well done. Your determination and dedication are inspiring. My downfall is chocolate but try to pace myself. I hope your husband is on the mend. Sending hugs.

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  3. Determination and grace are good attributes for anyone hoping to make changes to their diet. Fortunately, you have an abundance of both. Loved reading this inspirational post, Michelle. I needed the reminder to stay on my no-added-sugar journey. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Laurie. I think continued vigilance is the only way I will stay on track. it is softer than it sounds, I think. Weighing and measuring our food is just something we routinely do. On another note, do you still have my e-mail address? I would like to send you a question, or an invitation, depending on your point of view:)

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  4. Great job, especially maintaining good habits while on vacation. I need to make some of these changes. I know one’s palette will change as we get used to new foods, but I have not been willing to let go of most things. I’m trying to have a no sugar day one day a week and work in more vegetables.

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    1. Hi Barbara, thanks for taking the time to read and comment. The changing palette really surprised me, I didn’t think it was possible. It sounds like you know what you need to do and have a plan, that is key. It is so individual according to our needs, our health and our habits. Fad diets scare me though, and the ones where you purchase all your food, I wonder how one is supposed to learn and wean off of that?! I admire your plan for a no sugar day. That is something I need to pursue, in time, I think. If there is anyway I can encourage you, let me know. Grace and peace, Michele

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  5. It really is a work in progress and well done for both recognising that and staying within your range. It’s tough going & I have to admit to having strayed…a lot…over the past 2 weeks.

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    1. Thanks very much for your affirming words. I think it is easier to lose, that it is not that easy, than to keep the weight loss maintained. I am already making notes for the next installment. I started something new a few days ago, making notes at the back of a notebook I use for other things to note times and ways I hve strayed or felt like I did. Twice in the last week I have felt the impulse to eat in response to emotional issues. It is alll mindfulness I suppose, but that is where the weight gains come, don’t you think? The seemingly small concessions we make. On t he other hand, forgiving ourselves and moving on is the best deterrent. We can do this, yes we can! Thanks and blessings, Michele

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  6. Congrats on staying on track.I yo-yo with the best of them. I tend to easily blame stress, weather, and bread on my downward spirals.

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    1. Hi Antoinette, nice to see you here again. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. Unfortunately, those all sound like reasonable reactions. I have been baking bread like there is no tomorrow, but for the most part have been able to slice, weigh and freeze the bread and limit the number of slices, or ounces per day. A work in progress to be sure. Blessings, Michele

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  7. Wow, I’m so proud of you! Your determination is indeed truly inspiring. I am so glad you’ve been able to stay close to your target weight. I was on a weight loss journey in 2017, but never got to a healthy weight. The best I got was a BMI slightly under 30. Now it’s slightly over 30 again and I really want to lose weight again, but I just don’t seem to have the willpower.

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    1. Hi Astrid, I just left a note on your post from June 20th:) BMI is hard I think and a bit frustrating. I go back to my doctor in SEptember, but I think as much weight as I have lost, my BMI has only moved from “obese to overweight” I would probably have to lose another 7 pounds to get it to show a healthy weight and not sure I want to go there. I understand about will power being long absent. I met my goal with Weight Watchers (WW now) in 2007 and regained the weight, there are a lot of cookies and time between 2007 and 2021, but baby steps, healthy choices and sound advice can all make a difference. Part of the ruling on my BMI will depend on whether my doctor feels that I really am 5’3″ or if I am shorter, lol. Blessings, Michele

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for replying. I get what you mean about BMI. I do feel that physical fitness is more important than weight per se, though the two of course influence each other. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog too.

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  8. I saw an allergist earlier this summer and their measurement showed me a half inch shorter than I think I am. I kind of panicked and called my family dr and asked about a bone density test, which I will probably be due for in September. They were very kind and said, sometimes measuring techniques or estimates vary from office to office, just wait. In truth, I panicked because I thought if that would mean losing that much more weight to have a BMI less than “overweight” I don’t think I will do it! Thank you back and blessings, Michele

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  9. Michele, Congratulations on reaching your weight loss goal and staying on track. It’s not easy but you’re managing it well. Thank you for linking with #weekendcoffeeshare. Have a great week ahead.

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  10. Getting it off and keeping it off are so much harder than putting it on in the first place aren’t they Michele? Well done on conquering the beast of over-eating in its many shapes and forms. I still tend to comfort eat, or eat if I’m bored – and being home near the pantry all day makes it even more tempting. I lost 5kg a couple of years ago and it’s a fight keeping it off – so you’ve done amazingly well 🙂

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  11. I really love your motto and success term “stronger than the cookie,” Michele. You are doing awesome!! Losing that much weight is extremely difficult and maintaining the goal weight is as well. Such determination! Congratulations. The good thing is that after many weeks of better eating habits and different food choices, your stomach and intestines become super happy and they might protest when you go overboard, the wrong way. I find that interesting and helpful at the same time! Keep it up!

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  12. Thank you for those encouraging words. The motto came from my daughter, and it is a great hook. I am hoping I can apply this same determination and success to other areas of my life. Definitely not letting go of mindful eating, etc. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

    Liked by 1 person

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